With news of a new drama series heading for Sky Atlantic, Susan Omand does a What if... sort of...
I’m confused. Yes, I know, that’s easy (shut up) but I thought the required recasting for the recently released film All The Money In The World had already been done?
You know how we sometimes do these What If articles, where we take a film and “remake” it in our minds, doing a bit of fantasy recasting in the process? It seems we’re not the only ones. It’s been less than a month since the Ridley Scott helmed All The Money In the World hit the big screens and already Sky Atlantic are publicising the exact same story in their new 10 part drama called Trust. I don’t know if it’s some kind of official anniversary for the real events that both the film and TV series are based on, the kidnapping in Rome of J Paul Getty III by terrorists, or whether 20th Century Fox TV, who made the drama series, were betting on the Scott film being canned rather than recast so that they could take their own story forward and use the already hyped publicity, but anyway they have jumped on the Getty band wagon and the drama series is now coming soon. Having said that though, the cast they have lined up for the drama is storming, all things considered, so I thought I would do a bit of band wagon jumping myself and compare and contrast the big players in both to see who did it best.
I’ve stuck with the 5 big roles in both as far as the actors go but I also wanted to mention the creative teams. The film is directed by Scott from a screenplay by relative unknown David Scarpa (who did the screenplay for The Keanu Reeves film The Day The Earth Stood Still back in 2008) and is based on the book of the real incident by John Pearson. None of these people had worked together before but it was always going to be “A Ridley Scott film” no matter who else was involved. In contrast, the drama series has reunited the strong creative team behind Slumdog Millionaire for their take on the Getty...erm... take. Trust is written by Simon Beaufoy (Academy Award® winner for Best Adapted Screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire). It is executive produced by Beaufoy alongside Danny Boyle (Academy Award® winner for Best Directing for, yes, Slumdog Millionaire) and Christian Colson (Academy Award® winning producer of Slumdog Millionaire - do you see a pattern forming?), with Boyle directing the first three episodes. So you kind of know that behind the cameras is well taken care of.
So I’d say that was 1-0 to the TV drama.
On to the casting and I’ll start with the only “Not a Getty” that I’m going to look at for this, that’s the Private Investigator James Fletcher Chase...
The film went with guaranteed bums on seats and cast Mark Wahlberg for their private eye. To be honest, that’s not really a surprise to anyone as he is the golden boy of Hollywood just now and is just churning out the film roles, tending to get a bit typecast as the action hero though so this may show a slightly different side to him but it’s still very predictable.
The TV drama went for quite a surprising choice in Brendan Fraser. Now, I like his film work a lot (yes, even The Mummy sequels) and it’s nice to see him tackling something with a bit more gravitas – I think he’d make the character more of a thinker rather than a do-er if that makes sense and it’s something I’m intrigued to see.
So 2-0 to the TV drama.
Coming to the Gettys themselves, we’ll start at the bottom of the family tree and work up.
That means starting with our victim, the 16 year old J Paul Getty III...
The film went with Charlie Plummer (no relation to later cast members) who has already in his young career been in award winning films and had recurring roles in huge TV series like Boardwalk Empire so he’ll be able to handle the hype and the pressure like a professional.
The TV drama went with an almost unknown quantity with an actor called Harris Dickinson whose back catalogue so far, looking at IMDb, is shorts and walk-ons, however this could be the big break for him.
Still, I don’t have as much confidence in his work as I do with young Plummer so this casting point goes to the film and it’s now 2-1 to the TV drama.
Next up is Getty Jr, father of the kidnap victim and son of the big gun himself...
The film has taken a surprising turn here for me and gone with Andrew Buchan. He is well known to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to his many roles as a TV actor. I’ve enjoyed his work ever since the stunning, but short lived, series The Fixer but how well he can acquit himself on the big screen in such stellar company remains to be seen.
The TV drama has again gone with a name I don’t recognise although I know that some will, as Michael Esper has been in a lot of TV series, with recurring roles in the likes of Nurse Jackie and Shades of Blue.
Difficult to call but, purely on the fact that I know and like his work, Andrew Buchan gets the casting point for me so we’re now at a 2-2 draw.
Things are now starting to get serious as we look at the casting of Mommy dearest, Gail Harris/Getty, the one who acts as the main negotiator with both the kidnappers and Getty Sr...
In the film, this meaty role is taken by Michelle Williams. Brilliant at playing calm and assured characters you get the feeling that she is a voice of command and will get everything sorted with the minimum of fuss and panic, dealing with Sr with respect but a firm hand.
The TV drama, however, throws us a curve-ball by casting Hilary Swank. I mean how brilliant is that?! A strong woman again but a different character, I get the feeling there’s going to be sparks flying with her as the negotiating point. If I was a kidnapper I’d certainly not want to cross her anyway.
Again a hard call, as this pivotal role will define the whole character of the film but, just because I really want to see it, Hilary Swank gets the point so we’re at 3-2 to the TV drama.
Finally onto the head of the household, the man with the money, J Paul Getty himself...
We all know the problems around the emergency re-casting of the film so I won’t go into it again but will assume that this was the casting in place right from the start. I would say that Christopher Plummer is really making a come-back but, looking through his vast back catalogue on IMDb, he has always been working and celebrates 75 years in the industry this year (yes really, I counted on both hands) so he was always going to be a force to be reckoned with as the curmudgeonly billionaire recluse.
However, the TV drama has Donald Sutherland. Donald. Sutherland. ‘Nuff said, the TV Drama wins hands down.
Images - IMDb